Where you put your Focus dramatically affects how you feel. What you pay attention to creates your reality.
Have you ever say gone to a party or other event that you thought totally sucked. The you found out a friend was at the same event and thought it was great?
What was the difference? A big part of it was probably where the two of you were focused. Were you by yourself, knew no one, and sat on the outside looking in? Was your friend with a group, and in the middle of fun?
What you perceived effected what you thought about the whole experience.
Don’t believe me? Think about a movie. That is all a movie is. Creating an experience by focusing the viewers attention visually and auditory where the director wants.
That focusing doesn’t just include making sure you look at the right thing, but also making sure you don’t see the wrong thing. There are lots of events that ended up in the Editors trash bin because they didn’t quite give you the right experience.
You need to become the director of your life experience, and a big way you do that is to control where your camera is looking, and what is going into your ears.
Algorithmic Spells Control Your Attention on the Internet Plane
But if you decided to be the director of you life movie, you will find you have lots of competition. No where more so than on the Etherial plane of the Internet.
On the material plane the laws of physics have sway over what experiences we can have and how we can change our focus. But on the Internet Plane things are different.
The demigods of the Internet Plane have created windows called apps, that present reality to us as a stream. That stream may be Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, or Instagram. But it is a stream of little bits of information in all kinds of formats running right into your head. One right after the other.
That in and of itself might be OK. Not any more strange than walking down a street in a major city.
But the demigods craft these streams to keep you in them. They create spells called algorithms that study you and make sure you see more and more of the stuff that makes you stay. You may stay because there are lots of pictures of pretty girls in your feed, or cool food. Beautiful houses and rooms in houses.
Or you might stick around because it makes you angry. The feed gives you more and more news stories that you have to pay attention to or bad things will happen on the material plane.
Pretty soon you are mesmerized.
I use that term because we understand that experience and it comes from the idea of a spell that takes over your attention.
Don’t think it happens to you? Install a program on your phone or computer that tracks how much time you spend in different apps. If you have an iPhone it is already there and is called Screen Time.
Then, before looking at it, estimate how long you spent on your favorite Social Network yesterday. Now go look at the actual number.
Were you right? Or did it seem like you were just on for a few minutes and really it was hours. Leave a comment below.
These mesmerizing spells don’t just lock you into good stuff. They, like a movie director, don’t show you things you don’t want to see. Opinions that differ from your own.
Sometimes it is just stuff you don’t know you would like if you saw it. Social Networks are horrible at showing you random things.
It didn’t used to be like this. In the past you had newspapers and magazines. Where you were exposed to all kinds of things the editors thought relevant. Sure you probably didn’t read every article, but you were exposed to lots of different topics.
Even TV channels do that. They offer you stuff you might not go looking for on your own.
But algorithms don’t do that. Your best hope is they were read your mind and pull out of your subconscious something new. Luckily they can’t read your mind, but they do compare you to other people who like stuff you like and sometimes that causes a surprise. But mostly it doesn’t.
What are you to do?
Time to learn the skill of Focus.
Avoiding distraction isn’t easy in the modern world, ether on the material plane or the Internet plane. We are constantly being bombarded with opportunities to change our focus.
Everything from TV commercials, to pop-up adds. And we seem to crave it. We want a constant stream of content, distraction and shiny things.
But if you want to level up and gain new powers, you are going to have to make a choice about where you put your focus.
There are really two ways of doing this, and you should probably do both.
First is to eliminate distractions.
It is time to go on a distraction diet. The first step in any successful diet is to remove the things you shouldn’t be eating from your house.
In a distraction purge, remove things you know are distractions from your common areas of focus.
Here’s an example.
Take all the social media apps off the front page of your phone.
Ahh, you thought I was going to tell you to take them off your phone. Well, that would be good, but a) you would be very resistant to that and b) you might actually need to get on some of those platforms.
Especially YouTube so you can see all the great videos from Distinctions For Life. So hit that subscribe button now.
No, just move them off the front page. This is to stop you from defaulting to going to them when you pick up your phone. Maybe put you book reader on the front page, or you health tracker app. Something that would be of benefit to you.
This will help you avoid some distractions, but it won’t be enough to break the spell of distraction desire.
For that you are going to have to practice focus. Focus is a skill and skills are perfected not by learning, but by doing them over and over again.
Here are a few ways to practice focus.
I think this is the first thing we think of in the current age. Meditation has been around for centuries but has come to everyone’s attention in the last few decades. Especially for high achievers looking for improvement.
If you’ve never done it before, the best way to start is probably to use an app like Headspace or Calm.
Journaling is another form of focus training. It makes you slow down your thinking enough to allow you to write. You have to construct sentences and paragraphs, which requires you to organize your thoughts and avoid distractions.
Many people actually say they can only really think when writing. I have a video on how to use journaling to solve problems.
Silence is something modern people are very uncomfortable with. In a truly quiet – or even just media and people free – space we don’t know what to do with ourselves. Our brain will often start making up sounds just to have something to feed on.
Practice sitting in silence. Start small and work your way up.
Flow is a heightened state of consciousness caused by a task we become totally focused on. There are a lot of different tasks that cause this, you’ll need to find yours. These task can’t be too easy, nor too hard.
But when you do them, you are focused on them. For some writing is like this, or cooking, or making things. A hobby I recently found to be a good Flow generator was putting together puzzles.
As you practice the skill of focus, your ability to perceive distractions will increase. Then you will gain the ability to ignore those distractions.
This modifier can be increased as you are able to ignore bigger and bigger distractions. Until one day you will be a level 10 ninja and ignore strikes with a stick.
OK, you probably don’t need to be that good, but, you know, it is a thing.
Question of the Day: What is your Focus skill level?